Sunday, June 29, 2014

Top Chef

Chef
Director: Jon Favreau
Cast: Jon Favreau, John Leguizamo, Sofia Vergara, Scarlett Johansson, Dustin Hoffman, Oliver Platt, Robert Downey Jr.
Released: May 30, 2014
Viewed in theaters: June 17, 2014


I'm a big fan of Top Chef and since I don't have Bravo, I have to buy the season pass from iTunes and while watching last season, they had an episode where Jon Favreau was a guest and he was there to promote his upcoming film, Chef. I am also a fan of Master Chef (US version is great, but the Aussie version blows it out of the water and sadly I have not been able to see the past couple of seasons because I can't find them on YouTube!) and I knew I would enjoy this movie about a chef who quits his job at a fancy restaurant to follow his dream of owning a food truck. 

Before I get into the movie, let me tell you something a little irritating that happened at the theater. I went on a Tuesday afternoon because movies cost $5 on Tuesdays and I was the only one in the theater when I arrived which didn't surprise me since it had been open for a month. I was thinking I would be the only one in the theater (and it has happened before) as I took my seat in the middle of the theater in the middle of the row. Then, a few minutes later, a guy comes in and out of ALL the empty seats in the theater, where does he choose to sit? Right behind me! I mean, not in the chair directly behind me, but he was sitting in the one next to it. Seriously, out of all the seats he could have chosen, he had to sit in that row? Sheesh, he could have at least put a row in between us. Yes, I am the kind of person who likes to have my own space especially when there are all those empty seats! Then, during the previews, the guy's wife comes in with the popcorn and drinks and I'm sure she thought her husband was there first and that I chose to sit right in front of them! 

Luckily they didn't talk or do anything annoying so I was able to enjoy the movie and forget that two people were sitting right behind me. 

Favreau plays Carl Casper, an acclaimed chef at a Los Angeles restaurant where he clashes with the owner (Dustin Hoffman). When a well-known critic, Ramsay Michael (Oliver Platt), is set to review their restaurant, Carl wants to cook something special, but his boss tells him he can't and stick to the regular everyday menu the restaurant is known for. 

When Carl reads the review the next day, he and the food are slammed and after getting a Twitter lesson from his ten year old son, Percy, he writes a not so nice message to the critic thinking he sent it as a private message, but instead Tweeted it so anyone could see it. His son is amazed that he has so many followers the next day then has to set his dad straight that anyone can read the messages he tweets. This starts a Tweeting war between Carl and Ramsay and soon things get out of hand and Carl is fired and blows up in front of Ramsay which results in an unfortunate YouTube video. 

Deciding that he needs to lie low for awhile and spend time with his son and get out of L.A., his ex-wife (Sofia Vergara) suggests he come to Miami with her and Percy. There he gets in contact with his wife's other ex-husband (played by Robert Downey Jr. - when you're the director of Iron Man, it's easy to get him and Scarlett Johansson (who plays the hostess of the restaurant) to have small parts in your other movies!) who hooks him up with a food truck. The thing is a mess, though, so he and his son spend a day fixing it up - throwing junk out and buying a new stove and other necessities. He is pleasantly surprised when his sous chef, Martin (John Leguizamo), has quit his job to come down to help him. (Good thing too because he needed all the help he could get!) 

Carl and Martin are going to drive the truck all the way from Miami to L.A. (that makes the road trip I took from Omaha to Charleston, SC sound not so bad!) and Carl invites Percy to join them since he's out of school for the summer. Percy tells him that he'll ask his mom to see if it's okay and two seconds later he says, "She says it's okay." That was a cute running joke in the movie because he would just text his mom to ask her permission for things. Percy, being the tech savvy kid he is, promotes the food truck online with pictures and videos posted on Facebook and Vine and this gets them a lot of press and word of mouth.

While driving they see a sign for Disney World and Carl asks his son if he wants to stop there, but Percy tells him he'd rather to go New Orleans, a place they discussed going to earlier in the movie. I don't know what kid wouldn't want to go to Disney World, especially if you are right there anyway! At each locale they visit, they serve food that is familiar to that particular region. In Miami, it's Cuban sandwiches; in New Orleans, it's po'boys; in Texas it's pork sandwiches, etc. I have to say the food in the movie does look good, but the food they fix on the food truck looks really delicious. I have never ordered food from a food truck (I have never seen a food truck in real life - I don't think they have them where I live! ) I would not recommend seeing this movie on an empty stomach because it will just make you hungry! Hell, it will probably make you hungry even if you are full!

Of course, being that they are getting a lot of press out there, Ramsay decides to check out the food truck when they return to L.A. and tells Carl he would like to back him and have him open his own restaurant. The movie's ending was a little weak because Carl and his ex-wife get back together and while there were little hints of that, it seemed tacked on. 

If you are a fan of Top Chef or Master Chef, I would recommend this movie! And if you're not, I still think you might enjoy it. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

Dying Love

The Fault in Our Stars
Director: Josh Boone
Cast: Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Laura Dern, Willem Dafoe
Released: June 6, 2014
Viewed in theaters: June 15, 2014



I read the young adult novel this movie is based on a little over a year ago. I had a subscription to Entertainment Weekly at the time and they kept raving about this book (which was written by John Green and was published in 2012), so finally, after I acquired a Barnes and Noble gift certificate, decided to buy the book to see what the fuss was about. I really liked it. Honestly, if I had never read the book, I probably would have never seen the movie, especially not in the theater. The movie follows the book pretty faithfully and since I only read the book a year and a half ago, I remembered a lot of what happens.

If you have not read the book, it's the story of a sixteen year old girl, Hazel, who has been living with lung cancer since she was 13 and her parents and doctor think a support group would be good for her since she's more on the mopey negative side with sarcastic quips about how short her life is going to be.  At this support group, which she thinks is lame, she meets Gus, who had bone cancer and had a leg amputated because of it. They have a pretty serious relationship for such young ages, but this isn't at all like Twilight where the "romance" is contrived. They don't fall in love within ten minutes and while there is attraction, it's not the only reason they like each other as is the case in Twilight where Bella has to remind the reader every other page how hot Edward is. (Seriously, have you read the books? I am not lying!) Hazel and Gus actually, you know, build a relationship and aren't in love with each other by page ten. 

The two main leads are played by Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort. I have been well aware of Shailene Woodley for about ten years where I barely remember her from playing Marissa Cooper's younger sister (the first one!) on The O.C. and she played Felicity, from the American Girl Collection, in a TV movie. (Which I totally watched because I owned Felicity!) I never watched Shailene's show on the Family Channel and was only reminded that she existed a few years ago when she was in The Descendants. With this movie and Divergent, she's sort of been put in the spotlight. Now, Ansel Elgort, I have never heard of him and had no idea who he was. Apparently he was also in Divergent and plays Shailene's brother! And then they make out in The Fault in Our Stars! If that's not weird, I don't know what is! I'm glad I didn't see Divergent because that would have just weirded me out. Even knowing this information weirded me out a little.

So it's easy to see why Hazel falls for Gus because he is, for real, like the most perfect guy in the world. He's probably a little too perfect. I'm sorry, but no guy, especially no 18 year old guy like this exists! I can't remember if he's this perfect in the book. We are told the story from Hazel's point of view, so of course we're going to see her view of this great guy and it is easy to see why she likes him. He tells her she's beautiful, he is interested in HER story (and not just her caner story), he reads her favorite book (and quotes it!) and when they visit the author in Holland and do not get a welcoming reception, he tells Hazel that HE will write the sequel to her favorite book and I'm pretty sure he was being serious.

Willem Dafoe plays the author of her favorite book and he only wrote one book and then became a recluse. Hazel and Gus track him down in Holland and Gus suggests to her that she use her "wish" to visit Holland but she tells him she already used it to go to Disney World, but Gus, who still has his, uses it to travel to Holland and invites Hazel and her mom (Laura Dern) because he is Perfect Guy. When they visit Peter Van Houten, he is a complete jerk to them and it reminded me of that saying that you should never meet your hero because you will always be disappointed by them. Isn't that a saying? Well, if it isn't, I think it should be because it's probably true! Despite that, they have a wonderful time in Holland and make out in the Anne Frank house and while watching it on film it seemed highly inappropriate (despite everyone applauding for them), but it didn't seem as bad when reading the book.

Like I mentioned earlier, the movie follows the book pretty faithfully, but there are some things I noticed were left out. One of them was the explanation of the title! I can't remember in what context they use "the fault in our stars" or what they were talking about, but it is mentioned in the book because I remember thinking, "Oh, that's where the title comes from." But I don't remember the title being uttered in the film. Another scene they cut was my favorite from the book. It is when they are on the plane flying to Amsterdam and everyone around Hazel and Gus are asleep, but they are still awake (even though they took sleeping pills!) watching 300, a movie I've never seen but apparently has a lot of deaths and this leads into a fascinating discussion about how many people in the world have died since the beginning of time and I find this kind of stuff fascinating and I was really disappointed it wasn't in the movie. Once they showed them on the plane and played a song, I knew it would montage into them at the airport and getting around Amsterdam and I was right.

I'm sure there are more, but I found one little shout out to the book. One of them (I think it was Gus) has a V for Vendetta poster in his bedroom or basement (I know, I have the worst memory ever) and in the book he tells Hazel she looks like Natalie Portman from that movie and that was the first movie they watched together. He doesn't say this to her in the movie because Shailene Woodley does not look like Natalie Portman!

Of course, if you've read the book, then you know the ending and it is the same in the movie. Let's just say a film about two teens with cancer is not going to end well so bring your tissues! I would recommend reading the book, then watching the movie.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Not So Wicked

Maleficent
Director: Robert Stromberg
Cast: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple, Lesley Manville, Sam Riley
Released: May 30, 2014
Viewed in theaters: June 8, 2014



Slight spoilers even if you've already seen Sleeping Beauty
I watched Sleeping Beauty about 10 years ago and found a review about a paragraph long I wrote for it. I was not impressed. I called it "hokey" and declared it had me "rolling my eyes most of the time." Ooh, burn!  Princess Aurora has to be the worst Disney princess ever (EVER!) She's just there to look pretty and sleep. She is so lame! And I know a lot of people think "Aurora" is a pretty name,  but I hate it. It sounds like you have a mouthful of marbles when you say it...it also sounds like a name Scooby-Doo would have no problem pronouncing...Aurora! Obviously if this film had been called Aurora, I would not have seen it. Maleficent, on the other hand, is way more interesting and a frightening Disney villain. She's evil, she knows it and she owns it.

I was curious to see if they were going to keep Maleficent evil from start to finish or give her an origin story and redemption arc and was not surprised when it was the latter since just making her like the animated version would be too one-dimensional. I was thinking it was going to follow the story of Sleeping Beauty but have flashbacks of Maleficent's backstory and twist the ending to make her redeeming. Well, it took some liberties with the original. I can't remember what stayed the same and what they drastically changed.

We learn that Maleficent is from the Moors a magical land filled with CGI creatures. Some are so ugly they're cute and some are just terrifying. She is a fairy who was orphaned as a young girl and the first time she ever sees a human is when she's about 12 years old. His name is Stefan and he will later grow up to become Aurora's father. As teenagers, they have a romance, but eventually he starts coming around less because he's more interested in becoming King which he does when the King at the time declares whoever brings him Maleficent's wings, he will give him the throne. (He was attacked by Maleficent and died from his injuries). In a scene that's been compared to rape, Stefan drugs Maleficent, then cuts off her wings leaving her to wake up in agony and disbelief. He is shown about to kill her after he drugs her, but can't go through with it.

If she wasn't already angry at Stefan for ignoring her before, you can bet she's irate at him now and has become full blown evil. We see how she acquires her staff and raven (who can turn into a human...can't remember if he did that in the animated movie! ) The one scene they do almost verbatim from the 1959 version is Aurora's christening when Maleficent comes in to crash the party which is pretty bad-ass. As Maleficent, Angelina Jolie plays her very theatrically and you can tell she's having fun with the role. Now while she did come off as a little menacing, I didn't find her that scary, but I heard a little kid crying during this scene. She could have been crying for some reason unrelated to the movie though. This movie is rated PG but I feel like it might be scary for anyone under 6...who should just stick to the G rated movies, anyway, or just don't bring anyone under 6 to the movies... 

The baby they had for that scene to play Aurora was seriously the most beautiful baby I have ever seen. And she was super smiley which was adorable. Yes, most babies are cute, but I would never call a baby "beautiful" but this baby was really pretty! And Angelina's own daughter, Vivian plays five year old Aurora in a couple of scenes because she was the only kid who wasn't afraid of Angelina in her Maleficent get-up, ha! While watching the movie, I couldn't help but be impressed with Angelina's cheekbones because those things could cut some serious glass, but then I read they enhanced those as well as her eyes with some movie magic. 

As we all know, Maleficent puts a curse on Aurora that will cause her to prick her finger on a spindle on her 16th birthday and this will cause her to fall into an endless sleep which can only be lifted by true love's kiss which Maleficent knows doesn't exist because she had her heart broken by Aurora's father. King Stefan (Sharlto Copely) orders all the spindles in the land to be burned and locked into the dungeon but still sends Aurora away to live in a cottage in the forest with the three pixies (played by Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple, and Lesley Manville). I found the pixies to be so annoying in the animated film and could not stand them. They are still quite annoying, but even more so, terrifying to look at! They made CGI pixies, then glued the face of the actress on the pixie they were portraying. It was absolutely terrifying and just didn't look right. They make themselves into normal humans during the time they're watching Aurora in the cottage and that was a huge relief for me! I don't know why they just didn't do what they did with Julia Roberts when she played Tinkerbell in Hook and have the actresses just acting against really large objects to make themselves small. To be fair, I haven't seen Hook in ages so maybe that doesn't hold up as well, but it couldn't have been bad as what they did in this movie. That was just scary! 

Aurora (Elle Fanning) still manages to find her way back to the castle and prick her finger and fall into a deep sleep. One of the pixies tells the King that "she's only sleeping" and he goes ballistic which I don't really blame him. She may be "only sleeping", but there's only one way to wake her and at that point it's looking impossible she'll ever wake up. 

As Maleficent has been spying/keeping an eye on/checking up with Aurora/whatever you want to call it, she's actually developed a soft spot for the girl who thinks Maleficent is her fairy godmother as she knows she's been keeping watch over her since she was a young girl. Maleficent scoffs at this, but then invites the girl to play with the magical GCI creatures of the Moors. In one scene, a generically cute boring boy comes by to say hello Aurora. Oh, look, it's Phillip! Yawn, I mean, yay! 

Phillip comes back later when he's at the castle and the pixies encourage him to kiss Aurora which he does and she doesn't wake up. At first, I thought she didn't wake up because that was seriously the lamest kiss I have ever seen. He barely brushed his lips against hers. Just between you and me, I think Prince Phillip might be gay. But no, it doesn't work because Phillip doesn't love Aurora....because he's gay? But in a scene similar to another Disney  movie that came out last year and stars Adele Dazeem (sorry, that will never get old!), a tearful Maleficent tells Aurora she's sorry and kisses her forehead...and then she awakes. She's probably not asleep for longer than an hour and in the animated movie, wasn't she asleep for a few months weeks? Months? Years? I really don't remember. 

If you're waiting for Maleficent to turn into a dragon, you will sorely be disappointed. There is still a dragon though, but it's just not her who morphs into it. And as with any Disney movie, the villain (who is King Stefan in this instance) dies by falling to his death.   

If you're a firm believer Maleficent should always and forever remain evil, this movie is not for you. And even I had mixed feelings about Maleficent showing a more human side, but I knew there was no way they couldn't make a movie about her story without giving her a redemption arc. But seriously, the only reason to really watch this movie is for Angelina Jolie's performance. It's now my second favorite AJ performance...after Lisa in Girl, Interrupted, of course! 

Monday, June 16, 2014

OS Love

Her
Director: Spike Jonze
Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson, Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, Chris Pratt, Olivia Wilde
Released: December 18, 2013

Oscar nominations:
Best Picture (lost to 12 Years a Slave)
Best Original Screenplay - Spike Jonze (won)
Best Original Score - Will Butler and Owen Pallett (lost to Steven Price for Gravity)
Best Original Song - "The Moon Song" by Spike Jonze and Karen O (lost to "Let It Go" by Kristin Anderson Lopez and Robert Lopez for Frozen)
Best Production Design (lost to The Great Gatsby)


This is a movie I would not recommend watching with your parents or other family members or with somebody you've just started seeing. In fact, just watch it by yourself. Let's just say there are a couple awkward scenes that I was very glad I was watching it by myself! 

This movie takes place in the future (when exactly, we're not told) and I knew what it was about going in so it wasn't a huge shock that Joaquin Phoenix's character, Theodore, has a relationship with his OS system. Before seeing the movie, I assumed he was an anti-social, socially awkward person who had never had a (real human) girlfriend, but he used to be marry (to Rooney Mara's characters) and has friends (played by Amy Adams and Chris Pratt) so he's not a total, in lack of a better term, weird-o creep.

In this future world, everyone is always walking around with a headset on and everything is automated. Theodore works for a card company where he dictates letters for people who want to send a heartfelt message to loved ones, so they hire a company like the one Theodore works for to do it for him, which is a little messed up that that they have to hire a total stranger to write their personal messages! Theodore does this by verbally saying what he wants written down and the computer writes it down for him.

When he sees an ad for a new operating system with advanced artificial intelligence, he gets one and while setting it up, he's asked a couple questions which includes things like, "What is your relationship like with your mother?" He chooses to have a female voice and soon Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson) is born. Samantha is the anti-Suri. I don't have Suri, but I have seen plenty of people interact with "her", and if you ask her a totally off the wall question she will say (in a very robotic voice), "I do not know" or something to that affect and even if you do ask her a simple question, she will misunderstand it and say "I do not know" or give an answer that has nothing to do with what you asked. If I had Suri, I would just get aggravated with it. I can verbally tell my iPod touch to play a certain artist and four times out of five, it always gets it wrong! Samantha, being voiced by an actual person, has a "real" voice and communicates like a real person and she's very charming and makes jokes and can answer questions within seconds and reminds Theodore when he has meetings and reads him his e-mails. She is very organized and friendly and you can see why Theodore is so taken with her even though she is just a computer. She and Theodore have deep, philosophical conversations and she confesses to him she wishes she were human to see what it would be like.

There was one thing that confused me. This new OS is supposed to be super advanced and something that nobody has seen, but there's a scene where Theodore is playing a video game and at one point he gets to this weird little alien who talks to him and calls him names and while this is going on, he's also having a conversation with Samantha who's telling him he got an e-mail from a friend who sent pictures  of her friend who she wants to set him up with. He is able to post the pictures on the screen, along with the game, and the character in the game is able to see the pictures and comment on the girl and says how fat she is (obviously she is not since she is played by Olivia Wilde). If the OS Samantha is a part of is supposed to be this new marvel of technology because the OS can interact with you in personal ways, is it really that amazing if your video game characters (even if they are jerks) can also interact with you outside of the game? And to me, that is just creepy.

Samantha insists Theodore go on a date with the woman because she's noticed that Theodore hasn't had much interaction with woman. Now I don't like it when real life people meddle in my personal life, you can bet that I would really not like it if some Suri-like computer was meddling in it! So they go out and here is this beautiful woman who is interested in him, but like I say, if it's too good to be true, then it is and she just goes crazy on him and the date does not end well.

He and Samantha start connecting on a more deeper level and one night one thing leads to another and then one of the most awkward sex scenes I've ever seen onscreen happens which is pretty amazing how awkward it is considering there is no nudity and only one human (perhaps that's the reason it's so uncomfortable?) It is a lot like watching people have phone sex with a lot of heavy breathing. I don't know how Samantha could know what it's like to have sex since she doesn't have a physical body, but whatever.

Theodore, the human and Samantha, the OS become an official couple and you're waiting for his friends to find out and look at him funny or ask what he's been smoking, but they seem to take it very well and are happy for him. In fact, in this future world, it is not so weird for a true odd couple like that to happen as Theodore is not the only human dating his OS. If you think about it, people are already more interested in their iPhones and other technological devices than paying attention to the real human beings around them, so maybe it's not so far fetched that people will be in relationships with their iPhones in the future....which would be so weird and I hope that never happens! But perhaps it's not so off the mark. Theodore's friends are so welcoming of Samantha that they all go on a mini vacation together, the four of them. There's a scene where the three humans are outside enjoying a picnic and Theodore's phone is also lying on the blanket and they're all having a conversation and Samantha seems perfectly content joking around with them even though she's not physically there. In fact, she even makes a statement saying she's glad she's not a human because she can be anywhere and everywhere at once and doesn't have to worry about mortality.

As with any relationship, theirs has a few problems. (Hmm, you think?) Samantha is worried that Theodore is becoming distant and has asked a woman to be a surrogate and have sex with him so they can have a somewhat real physical relationship. The woman doesn't talk, but instead attaches a little fleck that looks like a mole to her upper lip and it allows Samantha to be connected to her...or something...I didn't quite get that and Samantha does the talking for her. I thought it would have been clever if they had Scarlett Johansson playing the woman but understood immediately why they didn't when Theodore can't go through with it and the woman, now out of character, is totally horrified and embarrassed and starts speaking.

Theodore gets jealous when Samantha says she's been talking to other operating systems (one of them with a very suave voice!) and is incredulous (as was I!) when she admits that she's in love with 641 other people because she is also the OS for 8,000 other humans. I think this shocked me because I just assumed that an individual OS was created for each human, but I guess there is only one Suri for the millions of people who have her services, so I shouldn't have been so surprised by that.

Inevitably, their relationship doesn't last, but it's not who you would think it is that ends it. A very interesting and thought-provoking movie, but like I said, make sure you watch it alone. 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Raising Life

Raising Helen
Director: Garry Marhsall
Cast: Kate Hudson, Joan Cusack, John Corbett, Helen Mirren, Hayden Panettiere, Abigail Breslin, Spener Breslin
Released: May 28, 2004


Life As We Know It
Director: Greg Berlanti
Cast: Katherine Heigl, Josh Duhamel, Josh Lucas
Released: October 8, 2010



I decided to review both these movies together as they have a similar plot: parents die in a car crash and leave their children to the least likely people (or person) to raise them.

In Raising Helen, Helen (Kate Hudson) and Jenny (Joan Cusack) are sisters whose older sister and brother-in-law are killed in a car accident. Or maybe their sister just moved to Wisteria Lane since she's played by Felicity Huffman and this movie came out the same year Desperate Housewives premiered. By the way, Cusack and Huffman, who are the same age, are 17 years older than Hudson. They are technically old enough to be her mother....I know the characters may not be the same age as the actors (I'm just going by the actors' ages since we don't know how old their characters), but 17 years just seems like a big gap.

In Life As We Know It, Holly (Katherine Heigl) and Messer (Josh Duhamel) are set up by a couple they're best friends with, but the date is such a disaster that there's not even a date because they piss each other off even before they drive to the restaurant. However, they keep seeing each other since their friends get married and they are the godparents of their daughter, Sophie. The parents, too, are killed in a car crash. Why is it always a car crash? I suppose that's the easiest way to kill off a couple of people. Having them murdered would be too traumatizing and a plane crash would be killing many more innocent people.

Guess who the parents left as the guardian to their children in both movies? That's right, Helen, the young party girl who is single  and has a full time job as a booking agent for models is left to raise her two nieces and one nephew. Hayden Pana-whatever (I never know how to pronounce her last name, so that's what I call her in real life!) is ten years younger than Kate Hudson and even in the movie they have more of a sister relationship than an aunt/niece one, forget a mother/daughter one! Spencer and Abigail Breslin are the other two kids and Abigail is so young she looks like she was a fetus not that long ago! And Holly and Messer are left to raise one year old Sophie on their own.

In both movies, nobody knew that this was the wish of the deceased parents and if they should die, they would be raising their kids. That seems odd to me. I don't have kids so I don't know how the legal stuff  works if you and your spouse die, but I would assume once you choose someone to be your guardian, THEY SHOULD KNOW and maybe even have to sign a contract prepared by your lawyer SO THEY KNOW!! Because in both movies they're all like, "WHAT? They chose me/us?" Really, movies, really?

I don't know which deceased parents were more stupid. It doesn't make sense for the parents in Life to leave their daughter with two people who aren't married and can't stand each other. Since the house mortgage is paid off, they both move into their dead friends' house together which is just weird. Not the fact that they're living in their dead friends' home...hey, if you have a free place to take care of a kid, go for it. What's weird is that they're both living there together raising a child, but yet they have separate lives. You think that would be weird for their dating lives, but they don't seem to have any problems with it. At least they explain why nobody in their immediate family would be fit parents for their daughter because Holly and Messer see if there's anything better and we meet a sister who's a stripper, another sibling who has ten kids, and a frail old father. It would have made more sense if they left Sophie to Holly (the more responsible of the two). Were they not thinking that their friends might get married (to different people!) and the situation would be awkward for everyone? Of course, they do end up together (like you didn't see that one coming) and after sleeping together, Holly says to Messer, "Do you think our friends had this all planned out so we would end up together?" Well, if that was their intention, that was pretty stupid because what if things hadn't worked out? Then they probably would have gone to court to see who would raise Sophie and everything would have been a mess. Stupid deceased parents!

And then why do the parents in Raising Helen (a title I still don't understand) have the younger sister as the sole guardian when Jenny already has two kids with one on the way and is married and knows how to deal with kids? It is established early on that Jenny is the black sheep of the family while Helen and Lynette are very close. Lynette leaves a note for her two sisters explaining why she made the choice she did and she basically chose Helen because she was more like her. Uh-huh. Not buying it, movie! By the way, I'm willing to bet that the two kids who play Cusack's children are one of the crew member's because they have no lines and are only in a couple scenes. They're just there to show us she is a Mom.

Out of the two scenarios, I think Helen is in the worst situation. She has to take care of three children by herself who are all old enough to remember their parents (and while there's the sad funeral scene, except for a few tears shed by the youngest, they seem to get over their parents pretty quickly!) while at least Holly and Messer are only dealing with one baby who will have no recollection of her parents and even calls Holly "Mama" by the end of the movie. Also, Sophie is a really cute baby (although they do have their crying baby and dirty diaper baby moments) while those three kids are super annoying. Hayden plays a very bratty teen who screams at everybody and the Breslin children are there to be the annoying kids, especially the boy. There's a scene where Helen is smoking and the boy tells her, "We don't need any more dead parents" or something to that effect. I know they were doing it for the comedy, but there is no way a child who just lost their parents days earlier would say something like that! They would not make a joke out of it!

Both movies have many wacky scenes where the new parents are taking care of their newly acquired children. There's a scene in Life where Messer has to take Sophie to work with him because Holly already had other engagement and he leaves her with the taxi driver to take care of her! And then there's a scene where Holly has just changed Sophie and has baby poo on her nose when the neighbors (one of them is played by Melissa McCarthy) come over. And in Raising Helen, there's a scene where Helen is helping with a fashion show (her boss is played by Helen Mirren who is much too good for this movie) and she brings Abigail who sees a model with a dog (played by Paris Hilton...I don't know why she just didn't play herself!) on the other side of the runway and crawls across the runway to get to it causing the models to topple over one another and thus gets Helen fired from her job. One of the most ridiculous part of the movie is that the four of them live in a tiny apartment in Queens with one bathroom. Four people and one bathroom? No, thank you! And there's a scene where Helen find out that Hayden has gone to a hotel with her boyfriend after a dance and she and Jenny go over there to confront them, but Helen chickens out and doesn't want to make Hayden mad at her, so she asks Jenny to do it. The scene was really weird because inside the room, the boy is in the bathroom and Hayden is in the room. You can tell that nothing has happened yet and when she hears someone knocking on the door, it looks like there's this flash of relief that crosses her face, but then she starts screaming at her aunt for ruining her life...maybe I just read too much into that look on her face and I'm giving this movie too much credit.

I read a review of Raising Helen that said that the funny parts weren't funny and the dramatic parts weren't dramatic which I agree with. The movie was just really boring. I didn't care about the characters and I found it annoying how Helen had this great amazing glamorous life. Not that Life As We Know It was a great movie by any means, but at least they made Holly and Messer a little more "real" and the movie kept my interest more than the other.

Actually, the more I think about it, while these two movies have similarities, Raising Helen reminds me more of Stepmom.

Here's a quick review I wrote of Raising Helen I did when I first saw it on DVD about ten years ago...as you can see, my opinion did not change!


Raising Helen - This movie has the stupidest, most unrealistic plotline ever. As you all probably know, Kate Hudson's sister and brother in law die in a car crash and they have 3 children and who do they ask to care for them? Cool Aunt Helen from New York who's lifestyle includes clubbing and partying and a busy career. I can just picture the writers now thinking of how they’re going to make a depressing situation into a wacky! Funny! Hilarious! one! Kate acts more like the kid's cool older sister than a mom. She doesn't give them to Joan Cusack's character who actually already has children, thus has the experience. Duhhhh. God, this movie was so friggin unrealistic. And why did Dead Mom choose cool Aunt Helen? Because she was the most like her! The whole movie reeked of bs. The oldest daughter was such a brat who needed a good bitch slappin'! Gary Marshall seems like a nice guy, but honestly, Gar? Do you really need to keep reminding me that Kate Hudson plays Helen Harris during the deleted scenes segment? Got it the first time! Thanks! 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Bed of Poo

Bed of Roses
Director: Michael Goldenberg
Cast: Christian Slater, Mary Stuart Masterson, Josh Brolin, Debra Monk
Released: January 26, 1996



As I was watching this movie, I knew it had to be written by a man and I was right. It was written by Michael Goldenberg, who also directed it. I could tell that whoever wrote it, was trying to cater to women (being that this is a romance movie, it's geared towards the female population) and thought they knew what a woman would like to see, but was oh so off the mark. 

Mary Stuart Masterson plays Lisa, a workaholic who was raised in a foster care by a man who was abusive with her so now she has issues with men, which is understandable. She has a friends with benefits deal going on with her co-worker (Brolin) but she has never been in any romantic relationship.The man who raised her has recently died and her resentment towards him are starting to well up. 

One day, at work, Lisa receives a bouquet of flowers. They're delivered to her by Lewis (Christian Slater), a flower delivery guy. There is no name on the card and she starts calling everyone she knows that would possibly send her flowers, but everyone tells her it wasn't them. Well, I knew it was the flower delivery guy and not just because he's played by the co-lead, but sine nobody she knew sent the flowers, then who else could it be? She goes to the flower shop to ask if they know who sent it but he tells her they can't give out that information because the guy asked to remain anonymous. Finally, he admits it was him after she keeps being persistent about how she need to know who it is. I figure he's going to tell her that he's delivered many flowers to her office and has seen her a few times and developed a crush on her, but no. He tells her he was taking a walk in her neighborhood at night one evening and looked up and noticed her in a window and how sad she looked and then followed her to work one day so that's how he knew where she worked. Oh my God, can we say creep-o? If some guy ever said that to me, I would be so freaked out. And she is a little freaked out at first, but decides, since he is such a nice guy (and he is a seemingly nice guy although he goes about things in the wrong way!), gives him a chance.

But, wait! That's not the worst scene in the movie! No, the worst scene is when they've been dating a few months and it's Christmas and he's going to introduce her to his family at his parents' house where there's going to be a big gathering. Lisa is really nervous about this and keeps making excuses not to go, but finally agrees. She has not told him about her childhood and whenever he asks about her parents and family, she always changes the subject. Lewis's family is all nice and welcoming to Lisa and everything seems to be going fine until it's the end of the evening and they're about to each open a present because their family tradition is that everyone is allowed to open one present on Christmas Eve. Well, Lewis gives Lisa a small box and guess what it is? Yep. An engagement ring. He's asking her to marry him in front of his entire family and the very first time she's meeting them! What a tool! And I didn't blame her when she ran out of the house and started berating him when he followed her and asked what was wrong. He tells her he thought it would be nice if they shared such a happy occasion in front of his family and she tells him he just doesn't understand. It was this scene when I knew a guy had to write this movie because no woman would ever want a guy to ask her to marry her in front of his family! Especially a woman like Lisa who has issues with men and is a bit closed-off to people. How could he be that clueless? Ugh!

And I said that was the worst scene, but the ending may be just as bad. After that debacle, Lisa and Lewis have broken up, but Lisa goes to his apartment to give him back something...I forget...and they exchange a few words and she's turning to leave and going very slowly, but then turns around and says, "This is the part where you're suppose to ask me to stay and hug me and never let me go." UGGGHHHHH, are you serious? And when she turns around to leave (again), he does just that and they are all happy blah, blah, blah. Oh, and I watched the trailer and they show a scene of them making love in a literal bed of roses, but that wasn't even in the movie. I guess it was so cheesy they had to take it out. I found everything to about this movie to be nauseating and eye-roll inducing.